Welcome to the Dragons’ lair!

Because Climate Change is finally getting the attention it deserves, after waiting since 1972, we have decided to open a new category where we welcome a discussion. Please e mail us or add to the comment section that follows each post. We will post all comments that are reasonable – not just those that agree with our opinion.
Now please click on the CLIMATE CHANGE category to see the posts. Help us all by offering solutions that combine to solve the problem.

We are four dragons who share our words, thoughts and work here on our blog – we also welcome anyone else to share their stories, poems, articles, reviews… and anything else!
Meet our bloggers

Here you will find our posts in various categories, and although most of these are what you might expect, here, in brief, is what you can find:

– writing – we are writers, that’s what we do, but we have separated our posts into categories. Please click on one of the links below or choose a category from the alphabetical list to the right.

We also share posts on specific subjects:

Our writers post whole stories – which will or already have been published:

As well as sharing our writing, we write about writing, language, we review different arts, and the progress we are making on our own writing projects:

…and then there are the odds and ends…

You can find details about our books on our Dragon Bookshop page.

DON’T FORGET OUR NEW FAVOURITES PAGES! You can find them on the home page.

73 blogs…2 writers…1 challenge… Here you will find a featured book. It may be a launch of a new book we have written or a review of one of our favourites that we have written previously.

 

Brimdraca / Lois        –     Lois

Eorodraca / Richard  –    Richard

Whose view?

There are many things I love about blogging, and one of them is the comments and friendly suggestions people leave. I was sharing some ideas I have about a guide to writing about family history and someone mentioned a very important point which to be honest I had not properly considered. When I led a family history writing group, it was something which was mentioned in a sideways sort of a way but I never got to the stage of developing it.

What my perceptive commentator said – and I’m very grateful to him, was that there is often more than one story connected to an incident which happened, or a relationship between family members. It’s obvious really, but family stories are slanted by the person who remembers them. All sorts of people are supposed to have been the originator of the phrase somewhere along the lines of “history is written by the victors” – and I guess the sense of it can be applied to family history too.

Inspired by this I want to write a story from my own family, but I don’t really know the truth of it, no-one does now, and anyway is there such a thing as truth? Different people have different perspectives, but which is the tight one? This was explored in a TV drama series, Boomtown, which I very much enjoyed and admired and was surprised it was chopped halfway through series 2. Each episode told a story through the different points of view of the characters, so the audience saw the same scene repeated but from a different standpoint with the back story of the characters whose point of view we were watching.

The story I’m thinking of writing is about my grandfather. I have some quite clear memories of him although he died when I was just eleven. He was seventy-five when he died. He was very strict and severe, and although I was shy and nervous with him, I was never fearful. He had four children, my uncle, then my two aunts, then my mum, the baby. I remember him telling me how to behave in certain situations – which seems strange now, for example if you’re invited into a room leave the door as you found it – if open leave it open, if closed, then shut it behind you. He also said it was important when brushing shoes to brush and polish the underneath part between the sole and the heel… I’m sure there were other things along the same lines. He was very fond of my cousins and me and my sister, I now realise, although my cousin was clearly his favourite, just as her mum had been. We felt no resentment, it was just the way it was, but he took her on visits and took her and her brother to a fancy hotel for ice-cream – I remember going once, but only once.

He had somewhat of an exciting life; he spent time in Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon and in the Cape Verde Islands. He attended London Polytechnic so he was a very intelligent and clever man and a gifted linguist. However, he ended up as a travelling salesman, a hard, hard life for an elderly man, carrying his heavy suitcase around for ten to twelve hours a day. He didn’t earn much and always in debt; he was very generous, but often borrowed money or spent the housekeeping to be so. He was a complicated and complex man, and I can’t imagine what the relationship was with my grandma – at the time, they were just my grandparents, and as a child I didn’t think anything about it. They were engaged for seven years and married in 1916, halfway through WW1 in which he served – he also joined up in WW2, he was extremely patriotic. I remember him standing up for the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day, so I daresay I did too.

How did his children see him? I have no idea how my uncle viewed him, just as dad I guess, and being of a Victorian generation, I guess grandpa was quite an old=fashioned father. My uncle went to a prestigious grammar school even though the family was not well off, and then joined the RAF before the war was even thought of.  My mum and her older sister Aunty B who were so alike they were often mistaken for twins, may have been a little in awe of him, but certainly were not scared of him. He would become very cross with them giggling – they were terrible gigglers, and would tell them off at mealtimes. However he also took them out in the old jalopy he had at one point, squashed together on the front seat and no seat belts then. They were both bright girls and got scholarships to the grammar schools in Cambridge. I followed Aunty B to the same one, my mum went to what was then the best school in Cambridge.

Mum’s eldest sister had a very different attitude to him, I think she actually hated him. She would say things about him which her sisters didn’t think were true – that he beat them with a copper stick for example, my mum and other aunty said this absolutely did not happen… but who now knows?  She resented the fact she only had one first name, Aunty B had three names, mum had two, and my uncle had two. Aunty A didn’t go to a grammar school, but her sisters only did because they got scholarships. She left school at fourteen and worked for a while at the village school she’d attended, and then went to work elsewhere before joining up in the army at the age of 19, when war was declared. As the eldest daughter maybe Aunty A knew things the youngest two didn’t, but as she left home early, they lived with their parents for much longer, mum was twenty-two when she married, Aunty B was twenty-five, in a way they knew their parents better.

There’s much more to their stories than this brief outline – but the point I’m making is that how would I write about grandpa? I remember him differently from my cousin. The stories my two aunties and my mum told me show three different fathers, what my dad and my uncle, Aunty B’s husband, told me about their father-in-law, shows another version of grandpa. The research I’ve done about his travels and his war record add another dimension.

Writing about the past is not straightforward, and this aspect I’ve fleetingly explored above needs to be included in any book I write about it!!

Here is a link to the blog of the person who set me off on this new thought about writing about the past!

https://jnanahodson.net/about/

An Easter Poem

Easter is the time of year
when all of nature starts to clear,
The mists of Autumn are long gone,
each day the sun now longer shone

The trees like princes, tall they stand
along the path on either hand.
Church bells ring, many birds sing,
announce to all the start of Spring.

Across the winter wetted fields,
paths aplenty but mudway yields.
Splashing on through many a puddle,
sheep still cold, close  in a huddle.

Primroses and garlic share the wood,
the smell is rank but coming good.
The stream it chuckles, a childlike sound,
as it runs to play underground.

The hot sun grins at all below,
watching the winsome willows weep,
Their feet under water, in the stream
washing their toes, even to gleam.

© Richard Kefford 2020

The future after Covid

Suddenly we’ve entered an alien world.
Cast away from all routines that please.
Life drags by because we are confined,
and each daywear feel uncertain unease.

This world-wide sufferings inescapable
yet it might bring some seeds of reform.
If we can finally grasp that Life is fragile,
and it’s in our hands to debase or adorn.

I have often been concerned in the past
than man’s vision is less than his grasp.
Now, urgently since the virus appeared,
there comes much greater reason to ask.

We must treat Life as a gift, not a right.
This is something that is owed by us all.
After Covid this awareness must dawn,
or Man might well engineer his own fall.

We must take care adopting fresh ideas,
as scientists dig deeply to new advances.
In this sophisticated complicated world,
they must avoid hidden adverse chances.

© John C Watts 2020

Blog number 34: owning a pet

Richard and Lois have challenged each other to write each of 73 set blogs – after teh first 25 they found the list was a little dull, so have made up their own. It is still a list, and they still have to go through it, and it is quite challenging. This is Lois’ thoughts on her experience of owning a pet, blog number 34:

What-ho, fans, Reg here! Old Grumps is busy, just for a minute she says. Well, I know what her minute is, it’s more time than it takes to get to the beach, have a sniff, have a dig, eat something she says is disgusting and get home.  She said ‘I’m just writing about my experience of having a pet,’ she said. I have no idea what she means but she gave me some chewy chicken wrapped in cod skin and asked me what i thought about that then. She actually said ‘what do you think about that then, Reg, what do you think about that, eh? Who’s a good little boy, who’s a very good little boy then, who’s going to go on a nice walkie in a minute, then?’ I tried to look winning and she gave me a pat and a biscuit. I actually thought having a free bit of chicken wrapped in cod skin was only what I deserved but I don’t think she meant that.

It shouldn’t take her long to do whatever it is, her experience of having me has been magnificent, a wonder, a fabulous affair. To be honest though, chums, she doesn’t seem to fully appreciate me and my amazing talents. If I had a doggy choc for every time she says ‘oh Reg that is disgusting’, or ‘for goodness sake, Reggie, don’t do that‘, then she’d soon be putting me on a diet. So let me just run through some of what makes her experience of having me in her life such a unique and wondrous thing..

First of all I am fabulous, and she’s lucky to be living with me. I am handsome, charming and fearless – ok so I think that person dressed in red who comes and rattles the metal box on the front door is actually out to get me, but I am only defending the property when I see them off with my magnificent repertoire of slavering growls, teeth baring and general writhing.

Secondly I am extremely handsome, everyone we meet says so. I’m not that impressed that so many of them think I’m a bitch but their adoring remarks makes up for them being short-sighted.

Next, she is so easily pleased and astounded at me doing the simplest things. Shake paw – oh you’re such a clever boy, well done!! Lie down, good boy Reg you’re such a good doggie.!!  One of the best things is when they put treats under something and I have to find them. Sometimes I pretend it’s more tricky than it is, and she’s almost in ecstasy over that; I sometimes get an extra treat when I’ve found the last thing which I’ve been pretending was so complicated to get out of the sock or whatever.

She’s actually quite lazy so my taking her out for walks is all for her own good. Then she has the nerve to complain if it starts to rain, the wind blows, she steps in a puddle with leaky boots, or I find something deliciously aromatic on the beach. She actually ought to be jolly grateful.

I have the most amazing nose. I can detect a fox at a thousand yards – dad sometimes says about a thousand yard stare, well I have a thousand yard sniff. I really think she ought to be more grateful and show me some respect for letting the whole house know there’s a fox about. All they do is moan about me barking. On the other hand they do give me treats to be quiet; dad says she’s rewarding me for making a racket, well so she jolly well should! It’s always important to know when there’s a fox outside.

The above is only scratching the surface of the huge debt of gratitude they owe me for coming into their lives. They are quite nice I guess, and I do have to say Old Grumps does give amazing massages, and they do give me a nice selection of treats.

Well, chums, that’s all for now, toodle-pip, or as we say back home mult noroc!!

SPRING

Anita stared at the exam paper in disgust.   An essay on “Spring”?   That was year 7 stuff!   Huh!   But she desperately wanted to pass this exam.   She had not done very well at school, and really wanted to increase her qualifications in order to get a better job.   If any jobs were forthcoming, that is.

She thought for a few openings.   “It was the first day of Spring and the sleet hustled past the window driven by the cold north wind”?   No, that was true, but a bit gloomy.   Had to get the examiner in a good mood.   “Already the crocuses had been pecked to death by the sparrows”?    No, true again, but too glum.   “The feathery fronds of the silver birch were touched with green”?   No, poetic, but a bit twee.   Anita didn’t do twee.

Then, an electric light bulb moment!   “Spring” didn’t necessarily mean the season.   Could be a coiled spring, or a water spring.   She suddenly remembered a holiday in Northumberland with her husband, many years ago, before the babies started coming, when they had found a lifesaving spring.

It had been an unusually hot summer, but up in the hills the wind was fresh, but hot, straight from the Sahara.   John had climbed up on some rocks to get a better viewpoint for a photograph, when the wind whipped off his sunhat, and blown it merrily northwards.   They had laughed, and continued on their way, but there was no shade, and gradually Anita became aware that John was not at all well.    He had stopped perspiring, and was beginning to talk nonsense.   She got worried, and turned them both down a track which she hoped led to a small group of trees at the head of a valley.

They made it down, Anita encouraging John to keep going, and in the shade of the trees, she lay him down in the shade, and began fanning him with the map.   They were out of the wind among the trees, and it was very quiet.   Then she heard the sound of running water!   She stood up and looked around, walking towards the sound.   Just past a big yew tree she found the source of the noise.   A tiny spring, issuing from between the rocks, and falling into a pool, before running down the valley.   Anita bent down and felt the water.   It was icy cold, and felt marvellous on her wrists.   She ran back to John, and taking an enamel mug from their rucksack, went back to the spring, filled it and took it back to John.   He took a sip, and she poured the rest of the water over his head.   Then she had managed to get him up and down to the spring and the pool, where she took off his t-shirt and soaking it in the little pool, wrapped it round his neck and back.

Gradually John had recovered, and Anita explored the valley a little.   She could see it led down to a village, just a couple of farms, a few houses and what looked as though it might be a pub.   And drinks.    She turned towards the spring, and cupped her hands under the falling water, took a long drink.   She stared at the source of the water.   Those rocks looked as though they had been arranged around the water.   Probably the source of the water for the village.   Inside a squarish niche there was a sort of statue, with some lettering underneath.   Moss and lichens had obliterated most of it, but looking hard, she could make out the shape of a person, maybe in a robe, and when she rubbed the moss away, she could see an S and then AE w? ld.   Maybe it was an Anglo Saxon Saint.    When they got down to the village, she would ask.  

They had set off down the track, through yew trees, juniper bushes, and gradually, oaks, mountain ash and hornbeam.   Down in the village, they found the Sheep Inn, and thankfully ordered cold beers, and ham sandwiches.    It was very quiet there, and Anita got talking to the man behind the bar, who she thought was probably the owner.  

“Oh, you found our spring, then?” he said when Anita had enquired about it.   “That was the source of water for the village.   Women used to walk up there, and fill their cans, bring them back and keep them in the cool.   Wonderful stuff, that water”

“Has it got a name?” she asked, “I thought I saw a sort of statue there.”

“Oh yes, that’s St. AEthelfryd, apparently she had escaped from some raiders from north of here, and exhausted, sat down beside a yew tree.   She was crying, and her tears opened up this spring and its never stopped running since.   Well, that’s the tale.   But every June, the women take flowers up there, remembering her special day.   Who’s to say what is right or wrong.   It’s a long time ago,” and he laughed.

Anita thought it could well be true, not the girl’s tears, but finding a hidden spring.   And weren’t yew trees associated with the Druids?   Did they have Druids in Northumberland?  

After their lunch, and with John feeling a lot better, they visited the church on their way towards home.   The church was obviously very old, and from the leaflet there they learned it was Norman, built on the site of a Saxon church, and that there was a tiny window that was the original Saxon.   The church was now dedicated to St. Abigail, which might or might not be a later adaption of AEthelfryd.

Remembering all this, Anita had started writing, forming the remembrances into what she hoped was a polished piece.   Satisfied, she put her pen down, and dragged herself back into the 21st century.   It was a long time ago, and she was surprised she had remembered it all so clearly.   She and John were a great deal older now, and had three teenage children, who thought it was hilarious that their mother was sitting the same examinations as they would be taking later.

Anita didn’t care.   She wanted to get on, now the children were growing up.   And if writing about Spring was the way to do it, write she would.

Much, much later, she found she had got a very high mark in the English examination, and grinning, she had told the children they had better work harder if they wanted to beat her!

October 1st and our September review – hello Autumn!

Welcome to our September review! We first posted a review here on March 1st 2018,  looking back over the previous month, sharing statistics, highlights and follow-ups. We made announcements, shared our news and our future plans.  Our first review proved popular so we  did it again – and now it has become ‘a thing’. So here is our review of September:

First of all…

We are still living in  a very different world, and maybe our world will never be the same again. There will be many changes, and many tragedies,  but maybe from this crisis some change will be positive with more concern about the way we treat our precious earth.

We continue to hope that despite the continuing struggle, our readers lives are gradually becoming better. Many of us are still living carefully and we hope you all will keep safe, keep well. We hope that through our writing we can continue to maintain a positive spirit as  autumn appears with typical weather for us in the south-west of England sunshine and showers, but cloudy and sunshine for our dragon Sigedraca in the north!

A few stats

In September we posted 15 stories, poems and other pieces, we had 761 views and 461 visitors from 39 different countries.  As ever, it is really lovely and much appreciated when we were very grateful to the four friends who left us comments!

To all our readers, world-wide, thank you so much for joining us, and welcome to all our new friends.

The blog

We continue our busy 2020 writing activities, especially now when going out is not always an option; we may not roam outside, but we can roam in our imaginations! We continue to share our concerns about global issues and especially climate warming and the effects the way we live our lives impacts on our world. However, the issue at the front of all our minds now is the present global difficulties; we live in dangerous times so please, stay safe by doing the right thing – stay home, stay away from others, follow whatever your government tells you! Do the write thing, but more important, do the right thing! Nearly a hundred and eighty years ago, the writer Bulwer-Lytton penned these words, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’; let us use our pens, not just to entertain, but to engage and to do our bit to help others in difficult situations.

On a positive note, we welcome any contributions to our blog, especially now, from anyone who would like to write articles, stories or poems about anything! We love to share others writing of all sorts! Please send us any stories, poems, articles which we can share here – copyrighted to you and with full credits to you and links to your places!

News

Lois’s news:

Our big news last month was that at long, long last after a mountainous struggle and something of a writer’s block, Lois published her latest book, Winterdyke! It is the newest installment of the adventures of Thomas Radwinter, part-time genealogist and solver of mysteries and puzzles.

Here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08GVCCRC7/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_VKOtFb0XMBQS3 via @AmazonUK

Lois is gradually adding a proper paperback version to all her novels so if you don’t have or don’t like reading on ereaders, a ‘proper’ book will be available. The second in her Radwinter series, ‘Magick’ is ready to purchase on her Amazon page, and ‘Raddy & Syl’ should follow soon.

Keep up to date with Lois’s news at https://loiselsden.wordpress.com/

Richard’s news:

Dragon Richard, Eorðdraca, continues with his other blog, pursuing his interest in geology, Geologist 264.rocks! He covers a variety of different areas of geology including fossils, minerals, volcanics, sediments and metamorphics and includes stories, poems and accounts of his geologising adventures – when he was able to go venturing and exploring of course!

https://geologist264.rocks/

Ferret news – Eorðdraca tells us that More Tales From the Strangled Ferret is now published and we will share a link and a review next month.

Lois and Richard have embarked on the next twenty-five blog challenge as part of an attempt to write 73 blogs from a given list. They have broken away from the original concept because, to be honest, the next topics were dull and repeats of what they’d written before. Nothing daunted (it’s pretty difficult to daunt a dragon!) they created their own list and are working their way through it. We will bring you an updated list of where they are in our next review

Just a reminder that our friend historian and blogger, Andrew Simpson, who shares many of the stories from his own blog, is writing some very interesting articles not only addressing the difficulties of our times, but how ordinary people, just like us, coped in the past.

https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.com/

Our stuff

We reported at the beginning of June that Richard  has been cracking on with reports and news from the Strangled Ferret and we hoped it would appear as a book. We are thrilled to report that indeed now it is! More news next month – and we’re sure you will all want a copy!

Our northern dragon, Sigedraca, Gillian Peall, has published a collection of her marvellous stories, ‘Across the Moors’; as she says, “a mixture of short stories, funny, sad, spooky and everything in between.” You may have read some of her stories here, if so you will know that you’re in for a treat, and a wide variety of different genres when you obtain a copy of her book. 

We would also like to mention our second anthology which we published in late 2019!!! We four dragons have shared  our forty-eight stories, articles, poems and a whole variety of delights! Our focus has been on landscape and location, although this brief is very flexible. The anthology is ‘Weyr Over The West… and a welter of other places’ – weyr being the collective noun for dragons, so we have been told.

We are now working on pieces for our next anthology, no definite title yet, but it will be focused on The Earth – and that will be interpreted in many different ways!

Links:

Other:

MOOCs –

You can also find us:

Mailing list

We would love you  to join our e-mail list so that we can occasionally send you a newsletter telling you what we are up to, previews, offers and exclusive details of new books we have written? We promise not to spam you or use your email for anything apart from receiving the newsletter and we will never sell or give your address to anyone.

Our featured image is from the beautiful countryside at Kerridge, not far from Macclesfield in Cheshire. Cheshire is the county where our wise dragon Sigedraca has her lair!

Another member of the family… or maybe not

Earlier this year I wrote three posts about some characters who had popped into my head; they did’t have a story, but they did have a location:

The Lidd family live in a very nice but modest red brick home in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century town of Strand. Strand itself is a fiction although it is the location of most of my novels. A small town, later to become a city is by the sea and at the time of the Lidds the port was busy with both fishing boats and cargo ships.

The Lidds are a ‘nice’ middle class family with two sons, Reginald and Percy – I have no idea of the plot, that hasn’t arrived in my head yet, but there are a couple of other characters attached to them, Molly or maybe Maisie Beans is a maid, a live-in maid who was born into a similar family to the Lidds but was orphaned and fell on hard times:

I have the feeling that like her name she is quite a quirky character, maybe described as ‘odd’ by cruel contemporaries, or ‘a funny little thing’ by patronising others. I think when she was at school, everyone quite liked her but she wasn’t anyone’s particular friend. if on occasion someone tried to bully her then she would look at them in rather a plain faced way, her head on one side, as if puzzled by their unkindness. Others would always stick up for her, but they themselves would probably tease her not thinking that what they were doing was the thin edge of the bullying wedge.

Another regular in the lives of the Lidds is Mr Peate the odd-job man.

Peter Peate (known locally as Pete-Peate) is a taciturn man, and often stands silently scratching his head as he thinks of how to answer. He is by no means stupid, nor ill-educated and reads voraciously – his favoured author is Wilkie Collins, but he thinks he has a new favourite in Joseph Conrad, whose first book, Almayer’s Folly,  was published recently in 1895. He has some extraordinary expressions – for example instead of ‘what the deuce?’ he says ‘what the beagle?’ However, Percy and Reginald’s favourite by far is ‘You can’t sue a goose’. which he applies to a variety of situations.
“How long will it take to fix the gutter, Mr Peate?” “Well, m’am, hard to say, you can’t sue a goose you know.”
“This weather has taken a turn for the worse, Mr Peate, will you be able to finish the paving?” “I will indeed, sir, it’s a hard frost we have to fear, then you can’t sue a goose in weather like that!”
“You’ve done a fine job there, Mr Peate.” “Thank you Mr Lidd, thank you sir, I always say, you can’t sue a goose!”

Now I have another person, Selwyn; he’s a contemporary of Reginald and Percy Lidd – was he at school with them? I’m not sure. He is extremely intelligent but a little too pleased to show it. He has not quite formed as a character yet, nor how he is connected to the Lidds – maybe a nephew, a distant cousin, Is he secretly in love with an unobtainable person, and this makes him bitter. I can see him clearly, but just not sure who exactly he is!!

My featured image of Selwyn is a photo I saw in a charity shop, I didn’t buy it, but I rather wish I had!

A somewhat mysterious undertaking

Lois writes: I’m so excited to have published my latest Radwinter novel, Winterdyke – and thanks so much to everyone who has given me so many positive comments! It is the seventh in my Radwinter series, but it’s a stand alone novel – you don’t have to have read the other six, but they do tell the story of Thomas Radwinter from 2013 through to the winter of 2018 when Winterdyke is set. Some people say should you read them in order? Well, they are all stand-alones, but reading them in order explains how certain things have come about in Thomas’s life, which might be unexpected!

Here is a short extract from the beginning of Winterdyke:

I opened my laptop and looked at my notes on the somewhat mysterious undertaking. I’d been contacted by the PA of an extremely wealthy family who wanted me to do a complete genealogical survey. I wasn’t exactly regretting accepting, they were paying me way, way over what I’d normally expect, but I had a few doubts. To be honest it seemed a bit odd, and if I had a sixth sense it would be pricking right now – if that’s what sixth senses do. But doesn’t the sixth sense enable you to see dead people? I remembered the film, and then wished I hadn’t.
I stared at the snow covered countryside whizzing past; it was ten in the morning but it was as grey as dusk and big blobs of slush were sticking to the window. I’d Google-Earthed the place and the house was massive and in the middle of nowhere, with woods in its grounds. It was on the edge of a remote marshy fenland area which was now a rather desolate country park but popular with people in motor boats and bird spotters apparently.
No wandering out for a pint at the local then, the nearest pub as far as I could see was in the village of Barbridge, although I’d have no way of getting there unless my hosts drove me.
I was uneasy in an ill-defined, cautious way. Maybe it was because I’d be so much out of my comfort zone. Gem, my nephew’s fiancée had checked the security on my laptops and assured me it would be difficult for anyone other than me to access them, and if by chance they did she’d know and attend to it from her end.

I hope you will be tempted to read more and find out what happens to Thomas as he stays with the Robespierre family for a fortnight researching their history. In the extract above, Thomas is feeling very uneasy – and without giving anything away, he’s quite right to do so!

Here#’s a link to my book – if you read it I would be so grateful for a comment on Amazon, it will be much appreciated!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winterdyke-Radwinter-7-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B08GY9C3P4/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2E5KR50C51DVR&dchild=1&keywords=lois+elsden&qid=1600193143&sprefix=lois+elsd%2Caps%2C272&sr=8-1

Mars Rising

     A poem written by John Watts.    

Each dusk and dawn I took a sight of Mars
tracking it by and past the cold bright stars.
I marked it’s steady clear and certain course
tracing the path decreed by God’s sure rule.
I knew of course this must refute the Greek.
Though deeper searches awaited my employ,
I gladly relived my awe of younger years.
A child again with all a young minds joy.

One stormy night my measures were in error,
Mars seemed to veer away from the ordained;  
but then what hellishness was next contrived.
A devil beyond reached to invade the world.
Mars held quite still, as lantern marks the way.
I prayed in palsiedfear. Was answer there?
as thunder bade the Heavens hide her head.      
That night was not as black as my despair.      

Next, clear above Orion’s sword lay Mars,
again, a stark and awe-full fear was mine.
I saw then more of what could never be,
great Mars retreating from his sacred path.
Some hand tore at the fabric of our world,
as within Orion’s arms he stopped again
then did resume his true and certain way;
just as the Greek had laid atrocious claim.

Temple priests first kindly heard my fear
but when I would still hold to what I’d seen
they said that I must cease from devil arts
or else espousing, risk my mortal soul.
But God had given me eyes to see his glory,
and mind, his sacred star-ways to ascend;
no doubt, and thus no agony could shrive                    
this awfulness I could not comprehend.

Now fleeing from Orion goes fiery Mars
quite steadily restored to his true course
as if no demon hand had grasped from me
the reason of this world, so long prescribed.
Though holy men insist Gods’ on his throne,
there surely looms great evil on our scene.
The Greek now says within the Holy texts
there are truths not so eternal as they seem.

        ©  John Watts at 9 12 19

…and words are flowing nicely once again

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing  – not about starting to write, or getting to grips with writing because for the moment, thankfully, that little hiccup is over and words are flowing nicely once again. I’m thinking about the process of writing, and how even someone who does it all the time like me – or maybe especially someone who does it all the time, needs to reflect on the process. We need to think about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, why and what the point is.

I’ll leave aside the what and why as I’ve mentioned that many times before (i’m a compulsive and addicted writer, writing in my head if I haven’t got a handy paper, pen, pencil, phone etc) and I’ll think instead about the how. A couple of days ago I wrote about the keys to writing – observation, imagination, and inspiration, and yesterday I had a ponder about what I called the ‘ings’. The ‘ings’ are what engages the reader – even if the reader is only the writer! It took me a very long time to understand what was meant by audience. I used to harp on (something I’m good at, and something I ought to stop being good at) about how it wasn’t necessary to have an audience, writing for yourself was enough. Dolt! Doughnut! If you read what you’ve written, you are the audience, you are your own audience. You don’t want your eyes to sweep across your own words in a passive, inactive way, maybe smug that you’ve written these gems. Writing the words isn’t enough; the reader – you or others – have to be engaged, engrossed, moved perhaps by what is on the page/screen.

As a writer, you have to look at your words and think about the ‘ings’, asking yourself such questions as:

  • is this compelling?
  • is this exciting
  • is this amusing
  • is this thought provoking
  • is this disturbing
  • is this inspiring

or heaven forbid –

  • is this boring
  • is this confusing
  • is this annoying/irritating

You have to be self-critical, but you also have to be pleased with what you write, and by being self-critical you are more likely to be pleased – and so will other readers, whoever they may be!